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Curr Biol. 2017 Oct 9;27(19):3049-3055.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.062. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

Reduced Laughter Contagion in Boys at Risk for Psychopathy.

Author information

1
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK; Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, KU Leuven, Leopold Vanderkelenstraat, Leuven, Belgium.
2
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Queen Square, University College London, London WC1N 3AR, UK; Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto, Rua Alfredo Allen, Porto, Portugal; Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Lisboa, Portugal.
3
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Queen Square, University College London, London WC1N 3AR, UK.
4
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK.
5
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK. Electronic address: e.viding@ucl.ac.uk.

Abstract

Humans are intrinsically social animals, forming enduring affiliative bonds [1]. However, a striking minority with psychopathic traits, who present with violent and antisocial behaviors, tend to value other people only insofar as they contribute to their own advancement [2, 3]. Extant research has addressed the neurocognitive processes associated with aggression in such individuals, but we know remarkably little about processes underlying their atypical social affiliation. This is surprising, given the importance of affiliation and bonding in promoting social order and reducing aggression [4, 5]. Human laughter engages brain areas that facilitate social reciprocity and emotional resonance, consistent with its established role in promoting affiliation and social cohesion [6-8]. We show that, compared with typically developing boys, those at risk for antisocial behavior in general (irrespective of their risk of psychopathy) display reduced neural response to laughter in the supplementary motor area, a premotor region thought to facilitate motor readiness to join in during social behavior [9-11]. Those at highest risk for developing psychopathy additionally show reduced neural responses to laughter in the anterior insula. This region is implicated in auditory-motor processing and in linking action tendencies with emotional experience and subjective feelings [10, 12, 13]. Furthermore, this same group reports reduced desire to join in with the laughter of others-a behavioral profile in part accounted for by the attenuated anterior insula response. These findings suggest that atypical processing of laughter could represent a novel mechanism that impoverishes social relationships and increases risk for psychopathy and antisocial behavior.

KEYWORDS:

callous-unemotional traits; disruptive behavior; emotional contagion; emotional resonance; laughter; positive vocalizations; psychopathy; social affiliation; social connectedness

PMID:
28966092
PMCID:
PMC5640510
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.062
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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